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Helmut Marko

Verstappen rivals warned over Red Bull upgrade boost

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has confirmed Max Verstappen will receive an updated RB20 at the next round in Imola after the Dutch driver was beaten on track at the Miami Grand Prix for the first time this season.

Verstappen Marko Australia
To news overview © XPBimages

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has warned Max Verstappen's rivals they face even more of an uphill task against the three-time F1 champion at next weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

McLaren's Lando Norris became the first driver to beat the Dutchman on track this season after the 24-year-old was helped by the timing of a safety car at the Miami Grand Prix.

Coupled with floor damage to Verstappen's RB20, the Briton could pull away from the Red Bull, winning the race by over seven seconds.

Marko, however, is unconcerned about a battle between Norris and Verstappen, despite McLaren's latest upgrade package bringing the team into contention for race wins as Red Bull is set to deploy its countermeasure at Imola.

"I'm not worried because [Lando] Norris is more than 50 points behind [Max Verstappen]," the 81-year-old explained in an interview with oe24.

"Besides, we are bringing an upgrade to Imola, which I expect a lot from. But Miami shows that we need to concentrate on the sporting side of things."

'The fact is that we were slower than McLaren'

Verstappen's car issues stemmed from missing the Turn 14/15 chicane on lap 21, sending his Red Bull over the run-off area, damaging its floor in the process.

After the race, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it cost Verstappen over two-tenths of a second through the first corner per lap.

Marko, however, does not believe the team was quick enough in Miami, regardless of any issues Verstappen may have been nursing.

"We were just too slow," he contended. "Max believes it wasn't that serious. The fact is that we were slower than McLaren."

The Austrian feels the timing of the safety car was the more critical factor in determining the race result. 

Norris had run long after spending the early part of the grand prix in sixth behind the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Had the safety car not been deployed when it was, the McLaren would have pitted, falling back behind Verstappen and others.

"Norris would have had a hard time closing the gap behind Max, and overtaking in Miami is also very difficult," Marko said.

He then added that Norris' debut victory might be a watershed moment for the 24-year-old. "But now it is to be feared that Lando [Norris] will become even more dangerous for him on the track," he said. "Because the pressure is off now."

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